Heaven Sent Review

As I’ve said many a time, what I want out of Doctor Who is something I’ve never seen before. And so I’m not going to argue with anybody who puts this among their masterpieces. If you want to claim it as the equal of Listen or Blink then be my guest. For me, it’s a solid 9/10, and won’t be ahead of The Zygon Inversion in my rankings, so the result is that we’re going to start defensive and then move to the positive.

I suspect the crux of my disagreement with those who will put it higher is simply how much one values the basic idea of the “experimental” in Doctor Who. Which in some ways brings us back to Sleep No More, and in others back to In the Forest of the Night, two episodes that were distinctly experimental and also distinctly flawed. In both cases I value them considerably more than the consensus, and specifically for the odd things they did. And moreover, yes, obviously anyone who’s read any of my work on Doctor Who recognizes that I love its weird tradition, which has always been a huge part ...

Black Friday

Indeed, no proper post today.

Here's a free and legal copy of Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle, though, which American readers will probably find a necessary tonic to Black Friday, and everyone else will just enjoy on its own merits.

Face the Raven Podcast

I'm joined this week by our very own Holy Boson to discuss Face the Raven and whatever else we got off talking about. Apologies for some early audio quality issues with my end; I had a mic problem that straightens out ten minutes or so in. Listen here while you face the turkey.

Also, I apologize that there will be no Last War in Albion this week; I forgot to queue it up before leaving for Thanksgiving, and lack access to key materials for adding images to it, so I'm just giving myself a holiday break on that one. Unless I get struck by some weird burst of energy and write something off-topic and absurd to post tomorrow, which is the sort of thing that sometimes happens. I do have a half-imagined essay about Placebo's cover of "Running Up That Hill" that could exist. You never know. But realistically, see you Saturday. 

Shabcast 13

Join Jack (i.e. me) and my buddy, actor Elliot Chapman (Big Finish's new Ben Jackson, and recent Pex Lives guest), for our very belated Hallowe'en Shabcast, in which we chat Dracula. 

Elliot's company have recently performed Liz Lochhead's acclaimed theatrical version of Bram Stoker's novel, and we use that as a subject in itself and as a springboard for a wider discussion... during which I think I can safely say that we touch upon every single piece of Dracula-related media ever created, and thoroughly cover each and every one of them.

You should know: this is the first Shabcast to experiment with a new process... Glorious Immersive Scenariosoundarama™.

Please download here.  And listen at night, in a large room lit only by candles. 

Cheers me dears.

Comics Reviews (November 25th, 2015)

Guardians of the Galaxy #2

Seriously, Bendis? Five double page spreads in your second issue? Which is to say that not a heck of a lot happens, and certainly not anything that could be called a character moment. Which is to say generally speaking an issue that demonstrates all of Bendis's worst instincts and few of his best ones. Ah well. 

Chew #52

You know how some months I know what's going on in this comic? This is one of those other months. Actually, genuine credit due, Layman and Guillory put a lot of work into reintroducing key concepts, so that the comic is actually followable even to a moron like me, but nothing quite spikes as "I'm invested in this" across the issue, alas.

Silver Surfer #15

Oh, man, are there still old old Marvel comics coming out? I didn't even know. This is good and fun, as the Slott/Allred Silver Surfer generally has been, but it's difficult to pretend that I care about the false secondary universe that the Silver Surfer created after the new universe has been created and before Secret Wars #9 has come out. Nor does it really feel ...

Jessica Jones

* trigger warnings: rape, child abuse, post-traumatic stress, suicide, controlling asshole fuckheads, and, you know, if you have triggers, they’re probably here, sorry *

I could probably add more to the list. A spoiler alert is warranted, but painfully banal. No, this isn’t an easy essay to write. But maybe it’s time, time to at least start a conversation about all the myriad ways that our lives are enmeshed in systems of control and abuse, in desperately inequitable power relations. And what that really fucking means.

Because that’s what Jessica Jones is ultimately all about. Now, to be plain, I highly recommend this show. It’s one of the most strikingly feminist works of art around, and it’s certainly the most feminist work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The wonderful diversity of the cast and roles, the plethora of female interactions, and the subversion of certain hyper-masculine tropes, this is all window dressing. It’s credentials. They’re not perfect, but they’re still excellent. That out of the way, let’s get to the nitty gritty. At its core, Jessica Jones metaphorically examines the dynamics of controlling relationships, primarily personal relationships. Which is just a starting ...

Documentary Footage of the Inside of My Brain

Jane will be on Wednesday this week. Until then, what the title suggests, from KLF Night at something called The Cube. I have no idea, really. Which is true of the inside of my brain too.

The Three-Body Trilogy, Or At Least Two-Thirds Of It

From my forthcoming colleciton Guided by the Beauty of Their Weapons: Notes on Science Fiction and Culture in the Year of Angry Dogs, available for preorder at Amazon and Amazon UK.

One of the most complex events surrounding the Hugos, at least in terms of untangling its meaning and significance, was the victory of Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem, the first part of a trilogy, in the marquee category of Best Novel. On the night it looked like a triumph - a book that had originally been kept off the ballot by the Puppies that only got on when Marko Kloos withdrew himself in protest at the tactics that had gotten him on, and was the first time Best Novel had been won by a work not originally published in English, which was another welcome note of diversity in a night that needed them.

Beyond that, it was a genuinely good sci-fi book. This is in some ways distinct from calling it a genuinely good book; there’s definitely a bit of “grading on the curve” involved here whereby one excuses the fact that one of the two protagonists is woefully underdeveloped and seems to exist mostly to slowly work ...

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